I’ve been a homemaker for nearly twenty years and raised three children. The trouble spots or hot spots for clutter are real, folks! We have been long time homeschoolers and my husband worked from home for many years, so our homes have truly been grand central!
I’d like to address some problem areas in hopes of offering some solutions.
I love Fisher Price, Legos, Little Tykes and all of those as much as the next person. I just don’t love stepping on said toys. Or seeing them strewn all over every inch of every room of the house. I love toys. But even toys have their place.
Where did we, as adults, get the notion that our children should have “play stations” or “play areas” in our living rooms and every common space? I think the majority of American homes with small children are overrun by the sheer volume of toys.
This requires periodic purging. Sorting through your child’s toys and assessing what she/he still plays with and loves is extremely important. Some you may want to put away and save, some you may want to sell and others donate. The key here is: movement. If new toys are coming in, old ones must go.
Are you saving those jeans in hopes of being a size whatever again? Do you have shoes that are twenty years old?
The problem is not in saving meaningful items. It becomes an issue when our things overtake our space and limit our options. For instance, when we have laundry to put away, is there an adequate space to hang it up? When you walk in your closet, do you have to step over clothing on the floor?
If I have repeated this mantra once, I’ve said it a bazillion times to my children:
If it is clean, hang it up or put it in the drawer.
If it is dirty, place it in the hamper.
There is no purgatory. It is either clean or dirty. No in between! Make a decision.
Fabric. Thread. Scrapbook paper. Stickers. Well, you get the idea. Crafters have a lot of stuff. Whatever your medium, craft supplies multiply when we’re sleeping at night, I am convinced.
Having a storage system in place for your loose items really counts here. I have clear plastic bins for my fabric so I can see what I have on hand. I store my scrapbooking stickers the same way. The goo gobs of scrapbook paper lives on my bookshelves in my sewing/craft room.
The point is to have a home for everything. And when we’re finished using things to place them back in said home. Good shelving in a closet can be very useful in storing fabric and other supplies. Organizing by color or like items is handy for future reference.
If you quilt and have a lot of rulers, keep all of your rulers together so you always know where they are.
We all learned to organize as kindergarteners if you think about it. We were taught colors and shapes, right? A picture of a circle was placed in front of us and we were asked to circle the similar shapes. We were told to color the picture red or circle all the red items. We were taught to group things together according to like items.
Now, depending on how long ago kindergarten was for you, reach back into that mindset twenty, thirty, forty, fifty … years ago.
Order. We all crave it. Some of us simply come by it more naturally than others.
Perhaps I saved one of the most troubled hot spots for last. If you are like many, you may have a deep fryer, a waffle iron, a wok, a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a crock pot, a microwave steamer, cake pans for every season, etc. And this is on top of the basic set or two of dishes, measuring cups/spoons, glasses, cups, mugs, silverware, etc. So much stuff!
I recently purged our kitchen cabinets and set a few items aside for donation and realized that all of those items either came from a discount or thrift store. They were not items I truly ever loved, but purchased because they were a “good deal”. I can be coaxed into buying something in a weak moment simply because it’s cheap compared to its value. The point is, it’s easy to accumulate items because they didn’t cost us very much. If you walk into any thrift store that is worth its salt, what section is usually good size? The housewares.
…For reasons unknown to me, at present I seem to be collecting plates. This past fall I found a set of six Johnson Brothers blue floral dinner plates at Goodwill. As we speak, I am awaiting delivery of a 45 piece Johnson Brothers pink castles set of dishes. This is a situation where the “one in = one out” rule should be implemented. I am contemplating donating the set of Corelle fruit motif plates we’ve had for nearly twenty years. I’ve long donated the matching cups and saucers but we daily use the large plates as well as the salad plates. My only hesitation in parting with these is that the kids (albeit teenagers) may break my new dishes. I’ll keep you posted on my decision… At any rate, the new dishes may take up residence in our new (to us) fairly empty China cabinet, so there is ample room…
Because the kitchen is the busiest and most used room in the house, it definitely requires periodic reassessing. Is there a reason I can’t find a home for the mixing bowls? Why do some of the pans not fit in the cabinet? I recently snagged a Rubbermaid bin from the garage, washed it up and placed all the pan lids inside. It fit easily on the top shelf of the pan cabinet and freed up so much valuable real estate for the other pans! I saw one lady purchased a white dish pan from the Dollar Tree to use for pan lid storage. Whatever works! Kitchen cabinet real estate is highly coveted so any space saving ideas will be useful.
Why so many? I have a friend who loves to cook and bake. She’s a true southerner and is excellent in the kitchen. I will give her a pass on the number of cookbooks she owns, but she has a wire bookcase in her kitchen chock full of every conceivable cookbook. They are literally falling off the shelves. I think I can honestly say, I’ve never known anyone who had more. She’s an exception. Mostly because she’s my friend. But for most of us, do we really ever consult our cookbooks? And, if so, there are likely only a handful that we do use. The point is…keep what you use. Donate what you don’t. Just don’t hang onto them for the sake of neglect.
Okay, I’m done. Steps away from microphone, shakes head and walks away. What can I say? Why all the stuff? Do you use it? No? Do you anticipate a date in the near future when you will? No? Donate it.
Would someone else enjoy it way more than the cobwebs currently do? Donate it.
It seems most garages are like the household stuff graveyard. They’re filled with things nobody wants but nobody has the courage to part with. They’ve outlasted their usefulness. Give it away while someone still wants it.
Okay, maybe there are a few things you should keep. Like your bicycles. Hang them. Christmas bins. Store them on a shelf. Think vertical. I like those shelving systems I’ve seen that are like a drop down shelf just below the attic space. They allow you get boxes and bins off the garage floor and free up valuable real estate. Love it.
There are countless hot spots or trouble areas when embarking on decluttering. These are meant to shine light on a few. Hope you’ve found this helpful. If so, let me know in the comments below. And if you have any related ideas that may help others, share away.